Are you Greek?
by Chris TDAQ
Another in a series of educational and entertaining culture tests. Chris is a translator (also a student majoring in clinical psychology) living somewhere in southern Greece.
Greek Taffee is good too
- You know about the concept of freedom of speech but you think it applies only to yourself.
- You're very familiar with popular culture figures such as Despina Vandi, Anna Vissi, Sfakianakis, Antzela Dimitriou, Ploutarkhos, and you probably know all the nasty little details of their (ex-)private lives.
- You're familiar with Thanasis Veggos, Aliki Vougiouklaki, G. Dalianidis' films, and a whole series of black and white films dating from the late '50's to the early '70's.
- If you're male, you are a soccer fanatic and you probably deem yourself qualified to give advice to the coach of the National Team. It would be unthinkable for you not to support one of the major Greek teams. You also know some things about basketball. Baseball, cricket and American football are exotic kinds of entertainment, widely (and inexplicably) appreciated beyond the seas.
- You expect to have at least three weeks of vacation a year.
- You live in a secular country but you believe in God, and 'of course' you are Christian Orthodox. BUT: You don't observe fast days, you swear like a bargee and afterwards you make the sign of the cross-- fortunately your God is a good fellow and will forgive you after all. You believe that the Orthodox Church owns a great deal of property (movable and landed) and Orthodox priests still have a plenty of influence.
- You think that fast food like McDonald's, Burger King, or KFC isn't expensive and/or prestigious. There are better (tastier, healthier) alternatives for about the same price.
We invented democracy; doesn't mean we're good at it
- You put salt in your food before you taste it. You eat at a table, sitting on chairs. You take it for granted that Greek cuisine is the best in the world. You savor delicacies like tzatziki, souvlaki, gyros, and feta cheese. Many Greek dishes include olive oil-- sometimes too much of it. The abundance of olive oil serves another noble purpose: the making of papara-- a chunk of bread dipped into the oil. You think the rest of the world eats bland, boring food.
- Turkish Coffee is Turkish; but you probably prefer to call it Greek coffee. You drink tons of coffee, especially frappe, or freddo.
- You own a telephone and a TV. And a car. You possibly have a PC as well, although you don't know how to use it. You probably own the latest model cellular telephone-- even if you don't really need one.
- You don't have a dirt floor. Your house is well-heated in the winter, and frozen in the summer because you've got air conditioning and you keep forgetting which is the 'power-off' button.
- Your mum does your laundry in a washing machine, up till your 30s. You 'll always be "her naughty little boy/girl", even if you are a pensioner.
- If you are over 50, it probably takes you 4-8 minutes to dress-- and you dress in an incredibly bad way-- though according to you, your outfit is a classic one.
- You don't consider insects, dogs, cats, monkeys, horses, guinea pigs, or snakes to be food. Snails used to be savored by older generations but they're all dead now, so snails are not an endangered species anymore.
- A bathroom is the room where the bathtub, shower, and toilet is. Often times the washing machine is in there too. Next to the toilet you keep lots of newspapers and magazines, since you spend a great deal of educational time in there.
- You don't understand the whole privatization movement (telephone system, airlines, and power/utility companies etc.), especially since you know that corrupt politicians will make any profits disappear fast. On the other hand you don't like state monopolies either.
- You gamble like crazy. You also bet on soccer games about 2-5 times a week. Traditionally, you never get a break.
- You expect that the phones will work-- and they do. However, depending on where you live, getting a new phone for your apartment could be tedious, like anything that involves bureaucracy.
- A train is a transportation alternative used by students, immigrants, soldiers and other minorities. Trains are slow and always over-heated. Cheap, though.
We invented ... er, well, never mind
- There are a gazillion political parties in your country, but you'll still vote for one of the two major parties: PASOK (the socialists) or ND (the conservatives). You have difficulty finding decent politicians to vote for. You know that politicians from any party are all concerned with the same thing: filling their own pockets. You know that politicians will always foul things up no matter what their orientations.
- You are sick and tired of politicians buying your vote in exchange for a rousfeti-- a special favor, like appointing you or your child to some public office, etc.
- You think most problems could be solved if only people would put aside their prejudices and agree with you.
- You trust the court system, even if you don't use it. You know that if you went into business and had problems with a customer, landlord, supplier, or the state itself, taking them to court would be easy. But it could take months or years until a final decision is reached.
- You may have learned some English, but you may have to resort to gestures when an English-speaking tourist says something really difficult (e.g. "Where is the Acropolis?").
- You think that ANY tax level is scandalously high. That's why you try desperately to evade paying taxes; Eforia (the Greek equivalent for IRS) is your favorite enemy.
- School is free but expensive. It lasts 9 years (12, including senior high).
- University is normally four years long-- unless you want to waste precious parental resources. The word "college" might confuse you because in your language a koleyio is a private high school. There are no private universities.
- Yoghurt comes in plastic bowls. Shaving cream comes in tubes or cans. Milk comes in plastic bottles and in cardboard boxes.
- You use the day/month/year format: 25/03/1821. (You probably know what happened on that date.)
- The decimal point is a comma. A dot is used for thousands and millions.
Do you have 2500 years of history to learn?
- You expect to marry for love; but the marriage of your parents was probably arranged by their families. You get married at city hall. A religious marriage has official validity too.
- If a man has sex with another man, he's a homosexual. That's OK, as long as he doesn't share this information with others.
- Once you're introduced to someone, you can call them by their first name, but according to social status and the context at hand... you can still call them by their first name.
- If you're a woman, you don't go to the beach topless, unless you're in great shape.
- On television, films are usually subtitled. In movie theaters, they are also subtitled. Latin-American soap-operas are dubbed though.
- You can't seriously expect to be able to transact business, or deal with the officials, by paying bribes. But of course there are exceptions. Some friends in the right places would help, of course.
- If a politician has been cheating on his wife, you would question his ability to govern.
- If you live in the city, just about any store will take your credit card.
- A company can fire just about anybody it wants. But it will also hire anybody
- You rarely eat bacon, but you will have kokoretsi (i.e. fried sheep intestines) at Easter.
- Labor Day is May 1st. Of course it's a holiday.
- You probably know the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley, Madonna and anybody who's currently on MTV (according to your age, of course). You don't really understand classical or jazz music.
- You're not going to die of cholera or other Third World diseases... but unless you can afford private medical insurance, you don't want to get ill... that would mean spending long hours in hospital corridors waiting for a physician who will be not appear until next Thursday. The situation is changing though.
- No volcanic eruptions or hurricanes in this country. On the other hand, earthquakes and floods are somewhat frequent.
Not that we're after a Greater Greece
- You studied ancient, medieval (Byzantine), and modern Greek history at school. This situation led you to conclude that until WW I, there were no other nations on the planet. But despite these school-based efforts, you know almost nothing about Greek history either.
- Your country has been conquered twice, by two foreign nations. The first conquest lasted about four centuries, and the second (during WW II) lasted about three years. You filled in the gaps with civil wars, riots, national disunity, and four or five military coups. You never get bored in this country-- that's for sure.
- You live in a small country (slightly smaller than Alabama), but you keep thinking that you are the center of the universe. Of course, a billion Chinese couldn't care less.
- You expect the military to defend peace, not get involved in politics (as it did back in 1967). You aren't able to name even one of the chiefs of staff. Mandatory military service still exists and lasts 12 months. But the proportion of volunteers and professionals is growing fast.
- You're used to having a wide variety of choices for almost anything you buy-- if you can afford it, of course.
- You measure things in meters, grams, and liters. Temperatures are measured in Celsius degrees.
- You are not a farmer, but chances are high that some of your ancestors were.
- The people who appear on the most popular talk shows are: politicians (ranging from mayors to ministers), other journalists, talentless entertainers, singers, or sleazy models. AND priests. But no one wants to watch authors, classical pianists or nuclear physicists on TV-- they'd better write a book.
- You drive on the right side of the road-- or anywhere else as necessitated by circumstance. You stop at red lights, if there are people around, or if you need to light a cigarette. If you're a pedestrian, you will fearlessly cross the street, anywhere you please, whether the light is green or not. Of course you run yellow lights!
- You consider the VW Beetle to be a smallish car. However, to you it is a VW Katsaridaki (i.e. 'little cockroach')
How can I trust a government that would hire someone like me?
- The Albanians are an uncivilized people, born thieves, who hate you because they want to build Greater Albania.
- The Macedonians are an uncivilized people, distorters of history, who hate you because they want to build Greater Macedonia.
- The Bulgarians surely want to build a Greater Bulgaria, but they are too damn poor to put their dark plans into practice.
- The Turks are bad fellows who committed all sorts of atrocities against you since 1453-- to say nothing of the Cyprus issue; of course they want to build Greater Turkey.
- The police are armed and have submachine guns in some parts of the big cities.
- If you are a traditional male, a woman should be slim, fit and-- what the heck-- a professional model. Eventually, of course, you 'll get married to a woman a bit plumper than the average. If you are a traditional man, you are hairy-chested, and presumably have some extra kilos-- but that's an asset when it comes to women, isn't it?
- Greek men are the sexiest in the world and they are real macho womanizers-- or so you like to claim.
- If you're male, you profoundly espouse the classic maxim "all women are hookers, except for my Mom and my sister."
- The biggest meal of the day is in the evening-- or any other time you see fit.
- You used to hear a lot of jokes about the Turks, but now it's more likely to be Albanians.
- If you live in Athens, there are parts of the city you would want to avoid at night -especially if you are alone. You don't have this problem in the rest of the country.
- You feel that your kind of people aren't being listened to enough in Athens.
Space and time
- You live in a country that has the greatest percentage of public servants/officials in Europe. You 've got a 40% chance to be a public servant yourself, and you definitely have a relative or close friend that is.
- There's no inflation anymore-- but there are lots of unemployed persons.
- You care very much about what family someone comes from. VERY much. Period.
- The normal thing, when a couple dies, is for their estate to be divided equally between their children.
- Opera and ballet are rather elite entertainments. It's likely you don't see that many plays, either. There are too many theaters in Athens though. There are many dance parties and raves all over the country (especially in the summer). For older generations, there is an abundance of paniyiria (that is local fairs) with folk music, folk cuisine and lots of cold beer.
- Christmas is in the winter of course. You'll have a Christmas tree and exchange gifts. You also develop-- out of the blue-- warm, kind and humanistic feelings for virtually ANY human being (excluding those bastards that 'steal' your parking spot).
- You think that social security should help the less fortunate, but it often gets abused, which is a Really Bad Thing. You would not be in favor of eliminating social security and Medical Assistance, however.
- There sure are a lot of lawyers in your country-- AND a lot of jokes about them, too. There are also too many doctors (maybe more than in any other european country), but they usually strive to get a job in Athens area, letting the rest of the country die waiting for an ambulance to arrive. The ambulance crew usually consists of nurse-assistants, that can't tell an axe wound from a heart attack. There are some really good hospitals all over the country, though.
- You have to obtain an ID card sometime between the 16th and 18th year of age.
- If you are late for an appointment, you'll mutter an excuse if you're 10-30 minutes late. 45 minutes late is still tolerable in some quarters. You don't do that if it is your first date with the girl of your dreams-- at least, not until you have sex with her.
- When if you're talking to someone, you can't feel comfortable if they stand more than 50 cm away.
- You expect to bargain for houses, cars, antiques, and most items sold at open-air markets. After all, everyone who is in the selling business is a crook, and everything is always overpriced.
- If you have guests, you will serve them anything available. And they'd better accept it.
- If you have a business appointment or interview with someone, you may expect them to show up 5 minutes early OR half an hour late. The business may take much longer than you imagined, and may be frequently interrupted by another person, a phone call etc.